Ministers Letter for May 2010

The General Election is over and we now know who won and who didn't. Congratulations to the winners and commiserations with the losers. Well done all of you, it is good that people want to take part in public life in such a way. It is easy to moan and complain, it is much harder to try to find solutions.

However, the thing that dominated the election campaign for me was the volcano, although Steve Davis winning matches at The Crucible was wonderful. The volcano reminded me of a number of things. First, that despite the economic superiority of Britain and Europe over most of the world, forces outside our control can bring us to a standstill. Perhaps this is a lesson for our new political leaders.

The second thing that struck me was how wedded we are to cheap flights. The horrendous stories of returning from the continent, which a number of my friends came back to tell me about, show that any idea that we are going to give up large scale public use of jet aircraft in the future is completely unlikely. The sheer cost in time and money of the alternatives means that jet travel as we know it is with us for the rest of my lifetime and probably my children's as well.

The next lesson it taught me is something about God. If God really wanted to, He could turn on any number of the thousands of volcanoes that He has and end this planet. The question is, "Why doesn't He?". This is certainly a point that those who delivered apocalyptic religious literature through my letterbox during the election campaign would be wise to consider. Despite all it's faults and it's brokenness, Britain does not deserve to be wiped out like Sodom and Gomorrah, as some religious pundits claim.

The answer is that God governs His universe with grace, mercy and generosity as well as judgement and justice. There is a job He expects all of us to do in spite of volcanic eruptions and General Elections. The poor, the vulnerable and the needy still need our help and it is our responsibility with God to get it done. Also He never forgets where the real suffering is even if we get distracted by other things.

This means that I hope you will be generous when the Christian Aid envelope comes through your door. I also hope that some of you might take part in our sponsored Fun Run on 8th May at 11:30am, which will be a great occasion complete with a barbecue (free to participants) and will be launched by our Mayor Patsy Warby. Even if you cannot take part, come along to support and sponsor someone.

If we really want to see real change in Britain and for democracy to work here and some of the world's big problems solved, we have to all join in. It is so easy to stand on the sidelines moaning. I hope that this election brings in a new era of mutual respect, compassion and care, and that we can wave goodbye to decades of recrimination and confrontation, which have marred our country. I also hope we can also start focussing more on what really matters - God, His world and all the need around us. Then we will find the peace and contentment we are all striving for.

With every good wish,

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Ford.